Bridging the provinces of Chimbu and Eastern Highlands is a mountain region known as the Bismarck Range which extends upwards into Mt Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea’s tallest mountain (4,509 m). Set on this mountain range is an intact montane forest comprised of Papua New Guinea oak and beech forest. The forest is home to the endangered Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo and many species of bird of paradise. Currently WCS is undertaking a project to reduce deforestation and conserve the biodiversity within a 45,000 ha section of this forest. The project, currently funded by the Darwin Initiative and the Christensen Fund, is also trying to strengthen and diversify local livelihoods. The project is targeting communities spread across seven wards in Chimbu and Eastern Highlands Provinces (approximately 9,300 people).
The project has three main focus: 1) improving local agricultural practices to achieve food security and to reduce the impact of shifting agriculture, 2) to protect primary forest by training local people and establishing nurseries to propagate little known but valuable timber species for the creation of village woodlots, and 3) safeguarding traditional knowledge and management practices of forest species for integration into improved management.
Protecting this corridor of forest will safeguard an important altitudinal gradient which should buffer against changes in the distribution of local wildlife caused by climate change. If successful, this project will stand as a model for the protection of forest and local cultures in Papua New Guinea.
Featured Partners: Darwin Initiative and The Christensen Fund Key Staff: Nathan Whitmore